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Football: Teams already busy building for 2019 season

St. Croix Central quarterback Tadan Holzer (10) launches a pass upfield during one of the Panthers' contact days on Thursday. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
The Somerset quarterbacks and running backs went through numerous handoffs to work on their timing during last week's contact days. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

High school football doesn't officially begin until August, but all three local football programs are busy in preparation for the upcoming season. Here are updates on where all three programs are in their plans.

New Richmond

The Tigers won't hold their contact days until late July. Their news is the installation of new weight room equipment and the fundraising being done to pay for the equipment.

The football program will hold its first Tiger 300 Party at Ready Randy's on Thursday, Aug. 1. This event is based around the Tiger 300 fundraiser, a board with 300 numbers that is located at Ready Randy's. In order to attend the event, you must pull one of the 300 tabs on the board, with the number being your donation amount to the football program. This serves as your ticket to the event, which includes dinner and a Tiger 300 shirt, plus $11,000 in cash prizes will be given away. Tickets can be purchased at Ready Randy's, but they must be purchased before the Aug. 1 event.

The Tiger 300 Party will be helping to pay for major upgrades in the high school weight room. The single weight racks will be replaced with eight double racks. Also being added are two lat pulldown machines and four glute-ham developers. The new, more condensed weight racks will help to make better use of the space in the weight room.

The New Richmond Board of Education voted on May 20 to approve the weight room upgrades. The district is funding half of the cost of the new equipment, with the high school athletic teams fundraising to cover the rest of the costs.

The upgrades will benefit all of the Tiger teams. There are more than 300 students using the weight room each day of the summer through the Tiger Strength program. Tiger football coach Reggie Larson said the upgrades will also be a significant aid for all of the high school physical education courses.

Here is a link to what the new equipment in the weight room will look like: https://dynamicfitness.wpengine.com/new-richmond-high-school-m02159-v6/

There is also schedule news for the Tigers. It has been finalized that New Richmond will face St. Croix Central and Somerset as its non-conference opponents in the first two weeks of the 2020 football season. That will be New Richmond's first season as a member of the Big Rivers Conference for football.

St. Croix Central

New Panther coach John Tackmann put his players through their summer contact days last week.

It shouldn't be a difficult transition, Tackmann said, because the team will continue to run the same offense and defense as in past seasons. Assistant coach Ryan Berg will remain in charge of the offense, with Tackmann and Pat Hook returning as defensive coaches. Tackmann said Jeremy Gibson, who joined the staff last year, will get more responsibility this year. There are two new coaches joining the staff. Somerset grad Isaac Neumann, who coached at UW-River Falls last year, will join the defensive staff and a new teacher, Justin Yearin, will also join the staff.

Tackmann said the main goal of the contact days was to get the new backfield reps working together. He said that with four linemen returning, the blocking should be in place to help the new backfield mesh quickly.

Tackmann said there are two major highlights on the Panthers' summer calendar. The first is the middle school camp at the end of July. A number of current Panthers and former Panthers now playing in college will serve as instructors at the camp. The second is the WFCA All-Star Games that will be played on July 20 at UW-Oshkosh. Three SCC graduates: Nate Berends, Austin Kopacz and Ryan Larson, will be playing for the Small School North team.

Somerset

The Spartans also completed their contact days last week. Somerset graduated a large crop of starters, so the week was spent getting the new lineup up to speed.

"Probably the most encouraging thing is our kids looked good...faster," said Somerset coach Bruce Larson. "Our offseason workouts have been really good."

The Spartans have one addition to their coaching staff. Joey Leonard was a starting linebacker at UW-River Falls, where he also was a three-time member of the WIAA Scholastic Honor Roll.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for more than 30 years.

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